Steve Luxenberg - Official Website

Monday, November 29, 2010

Annie’s Ghosts: The 2010 Holiday Gift and Giveaway Edition

I am making good on a promise.

Several times over the past year, while signing copies of Annie’s Ghosts at events, readers have enthused, “This book would make a great holiday gift for someone in my family.”

Then, invariably, they would sigh and say something like, “But I haven’t decided which family member, and part of the fun would be having it inscribed.”

I suppose I could have helped them with their dilemma. I could have generously said, “Buy several – I'll inscribe them all!" But I’m still getting in touch with my inner marketer.

One night, at a book talk in California, I had a better idea – or, at least, an unpressured one. “Well, if email me your address, I’ll send you a bookplate with an inscription and my autograph,” I proposed. “Postage on me.”

I’ve now provided several dozen such bookplates to gift-giving readers. So here’s my offer for the 2010 holidays: If you email me a request with your address, I’ll send you an inscribed bookplate for that gift copy or for the one you bought for yourself. Please let me know if you’d like a specific inscription, or whether you want me to create one, or whether you just want a signature. Send the email to

Also: As a way of thanking the many, many readers who have helped spread the word about Annie’s Ghosts, I’m giving away two signed hardcover copies for the holidays. Just send an email to by December 15, or use the the email form at The two winners will be randomly selected. If you use the email form at the website, please be sure to include your email address in the space provided. Otherwise, I won't know how to contact you if you win.

(As they say, no purchase is necessary. But please feel free to visit the Steve Luxenberg author page on Facebook, and join the ranks of those who "like" it. You can click here to get there. The more the merrier!)

Happy holidays, and here’s hoping that you find new books to captivate you in 2011.

Steve Luxenberg

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Praising libraries, an author's best friend

Let us now praise libraries, famous or not.

Libraries support authors and their work. They give us a space on their shelves and a place where communities can come to discuss our books. In my travels, I often find myself at the local library, sometimes to do a bit of research, sometimes because I like to surround myself with people and books when I’m working.

In October, I gave a lecture on Annie's Ghosts at a university library, where I happened to have spent a magical Saturday afternoon more than 40 years ago. I was 12 years old, visiting my older brother, who was then in the spring of his freshman year at the University of Michigan. He had invited me for the weekend, and I took advantage of my freedom to roam the campus by plopping myself down in a chair in the Hatcher Graduate Library’s periodicals room.

Strange? Well, I admit, a bit unusual. Hour after hour, reel after reel, I conjured up historic dates and threaded microfilmed newspapers through the gigantic reader. I would be lying if I pretended that I remember much about my choices, but I know that I wasn’t particularly creative: I went for wars and sports and memorable news, not necessarily in that order.

Did my love of journalism begin on that afternoon in 1964, huddled in the dim light with the front pages on D-Day, the 1929 stock market crash and the Detroit Tigers victories in the 1935 and 1945 World Series? That’s too neat, too romantic a notion. But I do remember this: I walked out of the library with a powerful feeling that witnessing history, and then reporting it, would be a job worth having.

To return to Ann Arbor, and to be invited to give a lecture in that same library, allowed me to say thanks in person, to pay tribute to a place that opened my eyes to the wider world around me. That’s what the best libraries -- and librarians -- do. They don’t give us knowledge. They help us to find knowledge, to inquire, to explore.

The night after I spoke at the Grad Library, I stood before a crowd of nearly 200 at a very different sort of library, a public library in Novi, a suburb west of Detroit. Recently, Novi joined with four nearby public libraries (Northville, Lyon Township, Salem-South Lyon and Wixom) to form the Neighborhood Library Association.

As their first joint project, the NLA chose Annie’s Ghosts as a “Community Read,” and each library organized two months of activities around the themes of the book. The libraries had 183 copies on hand, and according to their records, the book circulated 765 times before I came to speak. (For a news article on my talk and the Community Read program, click here.)

As it happens, the Novi Public Library has just moved into a new home: a $15 million, 55,000 square foot, start-of-the-art building that opened a few months ago, in June 2010. A bond issue, passed by the Novi voters, provided most of the money to pay for the facility. In this time of tight budgets, it’s an impressive commitment and investment in Novi’s future.

As director Julie Farkas took me on a tour, I could see that it was much more than just a place for books or DVDs or computers or author talks. It’s a place that draws people of all ages and interests, a place where a community comes together, a place for exploration and pursuit.

A place where a 12-year-old might find or nurture a life-long passion.

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